Well, two days ago, Thursday Feb 24, 2011, Europe fired up its large hadron collider again.
This is an interesting article for any number of reasons, but there are two points here that bear pointing out: (1) the search for the Higgs boson, and (2) the notice that the collider will continue operations into the end of 2012.
That revelation is enough to give anyone pause and I still wonder if we've been told the entire truth as to why the collider was shut down in the first place after it was powered up to full power the first time. Frankly, I doubt it, because this article goes on to note that the collider, when turned on again, will not be operating at full power. And this brings us to the elusive Higgs boson, the particle in the quantum mechanical zoo that is supposed to be responsible for mass. Why? Because when scientists added up the mass of other particles in the atom the masses didn't add up and the books didn't balance. It is, so to speak, the one major mystery - some would say the major flaw - in the standard model.
They may very well find the Higgs boson, and in a way, I hope they do, because it would be a comforting confirmation of that model. The alternative - not finding it - may mean having to rethink quite a great deal, and that might even include rethinking what really happened when the collider was shut down the first time around, when we were told that the helium coolant tanks around one of the gigantic magnetic coils broke down.
Now, for those who've been paying attention here, the Large Hadron collider actually has two stacked counter-rotating magnetic fields that spin up particles running around the magnetic racetrack in opposite directions and then smashes them together. Stacked, counter-rotating magnetic fields...
... can we say "magnetic fields separation"? Dr. Kurt Debus? Did the scientists, in fact, find something other than what they were looking for the first time around? Something perhaps confirming forgotten notions in physics?
In short, is the structure of the collider and the principles on which it is engineered beginning to ring a Bell?